Historical treasure found buried under grandstand

RANDALL WALKER
Last updated 12:00 12/06/2014

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Tracing the early days of a nearly century-old club's history can be a near-impossible task, but the job has been made easier for the Levin Racing Club.

Work under its last grandstand has unearthed boxes of handwritten "leather-bound tomes", including 1902 minutes from the inaugural meeting of the Horowhenua Land Company, which bought land for the racing club and AP&I showgrounds.

"It's the record of the meeting when five people got together, put a hundred pound in each and set up the Horowhenua Land Company, with the job of finding property to develop, sporting, racing and pastoral association land," vice president Graham Smellie said.

The find would pave the way for a club history to be written, as "it appears it is coming up to 100 years since 1916".

The documents show there was a Horowhenua Hack Racing Club before then, which leased the racing track, but it subsequently lost its licence. The company later worked with the club to regain the licence and in 1919 sold the land to the club and the AP&I Society.

Smellie said none of the club's committee knew of the documents until they were found during the cleanup. The facility had been vacant for about 25 years since it was closed as a racetrack.

"You couldn't walk in the place without falling over something. Everything from other parts of the track that had been dismantled had been dumped in there, so the thing was piled high with rubbish."

The Levin Menzshed is renovating the space in preparation for its move there, and contacted him when they found the boxes.

They contained minute books dating back to the first Horowhenua Land Company meetings in 1902, through to when the Levin Racing Club track ceased to be a racing venue.

The club will present the six minute books and about 30 original English stud books to Te Takere.

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- Manawatu Standard

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